Monday, June 06, 2005

Happy 21st Birthday, Daughter

Oh my son’s my son till he gets him a wife,
But my daughter’s my daughter all her life.

Dinah Mulock Craik (1826–87), writer

It is hard to believe that 21 years ago I became a father for the first and last time. There are so many wonderful memories to recall and the time disappeared much faster than anyone had even warned me about.

During the delivery I was thinking, why couldn’t this be like the old days where they just come out to the lobby and tell the father if it was a boy or a girl. There was no doubt in our minds that Daughter was going to be a boy. Her mother wanted a girl. I wanted a boy, but we both just wanted a healthy baby. We even painted her room blue (actually, her mother and a girlfriend did; I hate doing that kind of work; I am sure there is some reason for that avoidance that I can blame on my parents).

As Daughter came into this world, her mother lifted her head, and the nurse said it was a girl, who was crying in a loud shrilly voice, but when they handed Daughter to her mother she immediately stopped crying. It was a very special and poignant moment that changed my mind about fathers in the delivery room.

Daughter is very punctual or early, and her arrival on June 6, 1984 should have been an indication of what we were in for. She was early by about a week or two. What did I know, I thought that due dates were accurate and there would be no problem going to the Dodger game when she wasn't due for another week, but alas, I missed the game with On The Mark, where first baseman Mike Marshall hit a grand slam against a good Houston team, I believe.

The other thing she arrived with besides a sense of responsibility were big flat feet and vocal chords that to this day rattle the house. Before we were sent packing from the hospital, Daughter was taken out of the nursery and given to her mother because she was waking up the other babies. Again, nothing has changed; she just keeps waking us up coming home late and saying good night dad until she gets an answer.

Daughter has a good relationship with her parents, but I would say like most girls, she is a daddy’s girl, however considering the pain I have caused her I am rather surprised. When she was a toddler, she sat down in protest while I was holding her hand, and unbeknownst to me, I pulled her arm out of place. I didn’t realize what all the crying was about until I put her down for her nap and she kept dropping her right arm that held her bottle, like a bird with a wounded wing. The mere act of putting her jacket on her to take her to the doctor’s popped the arm back in place. She was okay until her mother came home and then she milked it all again.

The most traumatic time happened as Daughter and I were returning from recycling plastic bottles and her mother was at the gym. We were riding on my bike, she was sidesaddle on the bar between the handlebars and me when her foot slipped and got caught in the spokes. I went flying head first as if shot from a cannon and Daughter stayed tangled up with the bike. I immediately picked myself up and untangled her foot from the spokes and I carried Daughter in my arms and stopped a passing car and had him take us to the hospital. The hospital staff jumped to immediately because she was five or six and her face was a bit bloody. Her mother was notified by my father and as her mother came into the hospital, she saw my mangled 10-speed bike, which a policeman was kind enough to drop off at the hospital, and thought a Mac truck had hit us. Daughter was fine and ended up with a bright pink cast on her foot and ankle for six weeks.

Daughter is tenacious. I recall when she was learning to jump rope, she stayed outside for hours practicing until she was able to coordinate her little body and conquer the timing. Her persistence continues. She was completing an open-book final in statistics, when she looked at the test and started crying because she just didn’t know how to do it. Rather than give up, she stayed up all night reviewing notes and rereading chapters and aced the test.

The days fly by and I know that her time at home is part-time at best as she is now interning during the summer and then leaves for California’s central coast and Washington, D.C. in mid-September to intern in the House of Representatives.

Happy Birthday Baby and ace the LSATs!


On The Mark said...

Happy 21st Birthday, Misanthrope's daughter. Good luck on the test.

Chandira said...

Happy Birthday Daughter! :-) Hope you had a great weekend..

I remember my dad taking me out for a bicycle ride when I was about 8 or 9. We came down a hill, towards a T junction, and on my right were 2 old ladies taking a walk, on my left, my dad, panicking, so I just went right on up over the grass bank and lost a tooth. My dad never forgave himself for that.. It's OK dads, we don't hang on to these things, stuff just happens, we love you anyway.
My dad also dropped me on my head one time. ;-)

bitchphd said...

My little guy also stopped crying the second they handed him to me. A nice memory, that.

I love your choice of the phrase "milked it" to describe how your BABY daughter cried because you'd DISLOCATED HER ARM. ;)